Did Algeria’s paralympic team boycott Israel match?

Published September 12th, 2016 - 06:00 GMT
Israel's goalball team during 2016 match against Japan. (Twitter)
Israel's goalball team during 2016 match against Japan. (Twitter)

The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) has opened an investigation into the Algerian women's goalball team's failure to arrive in Rio de Janeiro ahead of their matches against the United States and Israel, BBC reported Sunday morning. 

The Algerian team was set to play the US on Friday, with another match set against Israel on Saturday. 

Seven members of the team supposedly claimed to have missed a bus from a training camp in Poland, which in turn caused them to miss their flight to the Paralympic Games in Brazil last Monday. 

The team also claimed that in the five days that followed they couldn't get new tickets due to a public holiday occurring in Algeria.

"To have five days traveling to Rio, it's a long time. I've missed connections in the past, and you usually get there within 24 hours," IPC spokesman Craig Spence explained to the BBC. 

The team's absence caused some to speculate on social media that they were avoiding Saturday's match against Israel.

"If, as many people believe, this is a political protest, we can take some form of action against them," Spence said. "It could be a slap on the wrist, or we could remove the goalball team from the tournament altogether." 

After the team's absence both the US and Israel were awarded victories in the matches. 

Israel’s goalball team won the Gold medal at the 2015 International Blind Sports Federation World Games in Seoul. The team is aiming for the top of the podium in the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

If the allegations are found to be true, it wouldn't be the first time the Israeli team has been snubbed for political reasons at a sporting event. Earlier this year at the Olympics, the Lebanese team refused to share a bus with the Israeli team to the Game's opening ceremony and Egyptian judoka Islam El Shehaby refused to shake hands with Israel's Ori Sasson.


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